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Unfair to the legacy of Ric Flair

March 20th, 2010 5 comments

Blood feast: The horror of the ongoing Hogan vs. Flair feud.

File under Ric Flair returns  to the ring in TNA.

“It’s a little sad to watch a fall from greatness….”

And so begins film critic Roger Ebert’s review of “Halloween II,” the 1981 sequel to one of the best horror films and one of the highest-grossing independent films ever made. The Ebert review goes on to quote John McCarty, author of the book “Splatter Movie,” who claimed the forces driving the splatter genre  “aim not to scare their audiences, necessarily, nor to drive them to the edge of their seats in suspense, but to mortify them with scenes of explicit gore. In splatter movies, mutilation is indeed the message–and many times the only one.” The longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic closed his review of the slasher sequel by saying, “…Halloween II is a retread of Halloween without that movie’s craft and exquisite timing.”

I was reminded of those words recently during the March 8 iMPACT main event featuring Hulk Hogan and Abyss vs. A.J. Styles and Ric Flair.

When Jerry Jarrett and I spoke earlier this week regarding the death of Corsica Joe, the subject eventually turned to TNA and the abysmal 1.0 rating in their first week going head to head with the WWE juggernaut. When he asked what I thought about the promotion building around the Hulkster and the Nature Boy in 2010, I blurted out, “Flair was one of my idols when I was a kid. I was saddened to see he and Hogan cut their heads off Monday and flop around like broken-down shells of their former selves. This isn’t the way I want to remember my hero.”

In quite possibly the publication's only nonfiction story of the year, the spring 1978 issue of The Wrestler touts young Flair as a future World champion.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Ric Flair in early 1978. I was nearly 7 years old and about to take yet another step from casual fan to hardcore mark. Months earlier, I had been living and dying with the drama unfolding in Memphis during the first-ever series of bouts between Jerry “the King” Lawler and “Superstar” Bill Dundee. Along with the release of STAR WARS and the death of Elvis Presley, my discovery of Memphis rasslin’ is the most vivid of that year of my young life.

I was watching another staple of my childhood, an episode of CHARLIE’S ANGELS, which featured an unsavory character–I believe an ex-grappler–reading a wrestling magazine. I was unaware of the existence of wrestling magazines–apparently I was so hell-bent on getting my grubby hands on the latest Spider-Man, Hulk or Fantastic Four comic book that I never noticed the magazine rack.

I begged my dad to take me to 7-11 to investigate and, sure enough, there was Ric Flair on the cover of the spring 1978 issue of the Best of the Wrestler.

Although over the years I would slowly figure out that most of the Apter mag stories were pure fiction, the headline on that Flair cover story proved to be quite prophetic — “The Experts Declare: Ric Flair is the Next Champion.” Flair may not have been the next World champion, but he did go on to rewrite the record book, capturing, depending on whom you believe, 16, 18–as high more than 21–World titles. I pretty much stopped counting after the seventh (eighth, if you count the New Zealand quickies with Harley Race) title win over Sting in East Rutherford N.Y. — the first of many times Ric came back to win the gold after seemingly being forced out to make room for the next new superstar in the business.

I became a regular reader of the Apter mags in the ’70s and ’80s and did my best to follow the storylines taking place around the country. Although I couldn’t see Flair wrestle on TV or in person, that made him larger than life to me, especially when I read that he’d won the NWA World title from Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City in 1981.

Equally as memorable as that introduction to Flair via wrestling journalism — the first time I saw Slick Ric wrestle on TV. When Flair showed up unannounced in the WMC-TV 5 Studio on August 14, 1982, I remember being terribly excited, calling my friends on the telephone and urging them to hurry over. We huddled around the TV in nervous excitement as Lawler masterfully goaded Flair into an impromptu NWA World title match. Sure, Nick Bockwinkel, the AWA World champ, played the role well and most Memphis fans believed him to be the champion, but we Apter-reading marks knew that the NWA strap was considered the big one by the prestigious wrestling press (cough). Dressed in a perfectly pressed double-breasted, navy-blue blazer and starched white button-down and khakis, Flair almost appeared as if he had steered his yacht down the Mississippi River to arrive in Memphis. In hindsight, I love how Flair gives the city and announcer Lance Russell repeated backhanded compliments, speaking methodically without a trace of sarcasm as he explained that he’d heard that Memphis was full of nothing but rednecks and he was pleasantly surprised to see otherwise. Ironically enough, Flair was actually born in Memphis, a fact I was stunned to learn years later. Oh, what might have been had Flair grown up in Memphis and come up through the local promotion at the same time as the man who would be King.

Lawler, riding high after the Andy Kaufman angle earlier in the year, humbly says that he’s not in Flair’s class and puts the Champ on the spot with a challenge. In one of the best performances of his career — which is saying a lot — Russell perfectly plays the role of the small-time announcer. He’s almost in awe of Flair’s presence, going so far as to comment on the Nature Boy’s “stunning watch.” I also like how Russell lowers his head when Lawler asks if Flair’s scheduled opponent, Rick McCord, has ever won a match. Lance quietly answers, “Well, Jerry … I don’t remember it if he if did.”

During the brief bout, I recall my friends and me marking out when Lawler traps Flair in the sleeper hold, with me screaming, “He’s got him! He’s got him!” It was clear to all of us that Lawler was the better wrestler when Flair ran off to keep his title after one of those devastating fistdrops. (Always funny to me to hear Lawler knock Flair for his chops, when his finishing move was a flying punch off the ropes.)

I was so convinced that an injustice had been done on that day in 1982 that I fired off a letter to Bill Apter proclaiming the King to be the uncrowned World champion. Lawler’s apparent good showing, though, was vintage Flair, making the local star appear unbeatable at his own expense. And, in the aftermath, when Flair accuses Lance of being in on the plan to embarrass him, Russell’s expression in response is priceless.

Of course, as the years went by, I saw Flair regularly defend his title on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling, which suddenly began appearing on TV prior to Jerry Jarrett’s and Lawler’s show at 11 a.m. I cheered as he regained the 10 pounds of gold from Harley Race at STARRCADE ’83. I rejoiced when Kerry Von Erich defeated Flair to win the belt for brother David and the entire state of Texas.

Stylin' and profilin': Another one of my favorite Flair T-shirts over the years.

In the mid-80s, when I began understanding what the business was all about, Flair supplanted Lawler as my favorite. To my dad, it seemed like I was always watching Ric Flair matches or interviews on our family’s big TV.

By the time I was in high school in the mid- to late ’80s, nearly every photo with three of my best friends from that era feature each of us displaying the sign of excellence: four fingers that represented the symbol of the Four Horsemen. My friends and I learned all Flair’s catchphrases, repeating them to our opponents on the soccer and football fields (which, according to my British wife, are one and the same), and occasionally, even our girlfriends, much to their disgust.

As the cocky goalkeeper for my high-school soccer team, I wore a Ric Flair T-shirt underneath my jersey for every game. One humid April night in 1989, I hastily left my nighttime soccer game, and still wearing my uniform, made it the Coliseum for a rare NWA show at the Coliseum just in time to see Ricky Steamboat defend Big Gold against Flair. The show only drew about 2,000 fans in the 11,364-seat arena, but Flair and Steamboat delivered an amazing 32-minute bout that was only slightly below their Chi-Town Rumble match in February of that year.

In my high-school graduation book, in the section devoted to future goals I want to accomplish, I wrote only: “To win the NWA World title from Ric Flair.” In college in 1991, I had T-shirts printed up declaring Pi Kappa Alpha “the real World champion of fraternities,” with an illustration of Flair (done by Kevin Lawler) wearing the World title belt featuring our Greek letters. I was wearing this T-shirt when I met Flair in the parking lot as he climbed into his rental car with Earl Hebner following a WWF show at the Pyramid Arena that same year. Upon hearing him say, “I love it!”, I literally gave him the shirt of my back in freezing temperatures–a gesture he seemed amused by.

The Four Horsemen of Bartlett High School (apparently making an appearance at a Bass Pro Shop).

When I broke into the business working for Jarrett and Lawler and eventually turned heel, I patterned myself after the Horsemen, always wearing starched button-downs and ties. One of the best compliments I received early on was from longtime wrestler Buddy Wayne, who rarely put over anybody or anything. (But you could always count on Buddy to tell you what was wrong with the business, which was usually followed by “… and I tell ya, it’s killin’ us, it’s killin’ us.”) He remarked that the way I dressed on TV made it seem like I was really somebody — not a wrestling manager with loud jackets and buffoonish, cheap shirts and slacks. In my mind, I was stylin’ and profilin.’

Wrestling would continue to change over the years, but Flair was the only thing that remained a constant. In some ways, he represented the last of the old-school era for most fans. Almost hard to believe that the two stars of that angle from August 1982 in Memphis were the only big-name territory guys still featured in Vince McMahon’s WWE heading into the 2008 WRESTLEMANIA event. Now only Lawler remains, but he’s not the same King I grew up with.

I had that feeling of being a kid again all over again during what was promised to be the last time I would watch Flair in a wrestling match. I had the words “Don’t be ashamed of those butterflies” in my head in response to my nervous stomach as I watched Flair walk that aisle for that bout with MichaelsI popped early when Flair successfully made it off the top rope with a bodypress. I cringed when the bridge spot–which I’d seen Flair do with the likes of Steamboat, Barry Windham and Brad Armstrong so many times in the ’80s–didn’t quite work out. I almost believed that Flair might pull it off when HBK hesitated and gave Flair the advantage late in the bout.

And my eyes started welling up just a bit when HBK mouthed the words “I’m sorry. I love you”–what a beautiful way that would have been to close the final chapter of the most storied career in the business. HBK kept his word: He gave Flair exactly what he needed to have one last great match. Simply a tremendous performance put together by the Naitch and HBK. Flair, on the other hand, didn’t keep his word that Michaels would have the honor of his last match.

At the time, I felt that the shot of the long walk back to the dressing room for Flair after sharing the moment with his family would always be with me — it had the feel of Larry Bird’s retirement from basketball. Since that time, his son Reid has been arrested for heroin possession, while his daughter Ashley was picked up by police for allegedly assaulting her dad after a night of drinking. His latest wife, Jackie Beems, made headlines on TMZ for allegedly biting, kicking and punching the former champion.

The night after what was to be Flair’s final bout, in a sendoff never before seen for even the biggest of Vince McMahon’s creations, the Nature Boy, for years the franchise player for the WWF’s former promotional rival, was saluted by his peers and his family in touching fashion following Ric’s farewell address. Not only did we get Four Horsemen Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko and J.J. Dillion and former rivals Race, Steamboat and Greg Valentine, but we also got to see guys like HBK, Chris Jericho, Triple H and Edge give thanks to one of their childhood heroes. Big Show appeared to be in tears when he climbed on the ring apron, probably still reeling from Flair’s comments at the Hall of Fame that Show could own the business if he had his head screwed on straight.

The entire scene was poignant. I was truly touched. My wife, Hayley, leaned over looking for tears on my face, and I had to look away. Nearly 30 years to the day I first laid eyes on the Nature Boy on that magazine cover, I was saying goodbye. And thank you.

Hayley walked into our living room on March 8, to see a bloody Flair staggering around like a crazed maniac–straight out of a bad horror film. “Oh, my. Is that Ric?! That is sad,” she said. Yeah, but for altogether different reasons this time.

Bloody hell! TNA’s brings the Monday Night War to WWE with bloated yet entertaining effort

March 8th, 2010 No comments

Monday Night Mayhem: The stars of TNA draw first blood.

TNA pulled out all the stops Monday night, cramming a month’s worth of angles into one show, highlighted by a Sting heel turn, two Flair vs. Hogan bouts, Abyss pinning the World champion clean in the middle, a impassioned, teary-eyed plea from Brooke Hogan to her dad and the Hulkster’s resulting apparent “retirement,” the transformation of Kurt Angle into Capt. America, the debut of RVD–and in a bout against Sting no less–and the reappearance of Jeff Hardy.

Some of the highlights:

In a promising start, Hogan kicked off the show not hyping “change” or Monday Night War II but rather staying within the storyline of kicking Flair’s ass. They gave us the main event early,with Hogan and Abyss vs. Flair and A.J. Styles. The match didn’t go long before the heels gained the advantage and the lights went out, which brought Sting into the fray, armed with a baseball bat. Similar to Hogan’s infamous heel turn at Bash at the Beach so many years ago–a spot that Sting was standing by to fill in case Hulk got cold feet–the Stinger attacked Hogan and Abyss, who both juiced following two chairshots to the head during the onslaught. Instead of building up a rematch for the upcoming PPV or at the very least to spike next week’s rating, the bout was rescheduled for later that night. Sting shoved Dixie Carter backstage, so apparently they’re going all the way in with Sting’s heel turn this time around. A shaken Carter vowed later that Sting would be forced to wrestle that night against a mystery opponent of her choosing.

As Kazarian, Daniels and Doug Williams argued about their pecking order, Eric Bischoff gave a strong promo putting over the X Division as not only TNA’s heart but also its adrenaline, which got a big pop. He then made an impromptu title match with the three, which saw the champion retain after a dizzying series of spectacular highspots. Afterward, Bischoff revealed Shannon Moore as Williams’s opponent at the Division X PPV. (Wow–actually building toward a PPV title bout…what the hell’s gotten into Bischoff?) Good segment that showed that maybe Bischoff finally understands the delicate balance of making changes to improve the product while preserving what made TNA unique in the first place. This really felt like a commitment by Bischoff to continue the history of strong X Division title matches.

Tazz, who had an off night, initially claimed not to know whom Sting’s opponent might be and then minutes later made a cute inside remark to Mike Tenay, asking, “What were you doing at 4:20 this afternoon?” (Tenay, by the way, was his usual excellent self.)

Sting came out to a mostly silent crowd, who clearly weren’t sold on booing a legend. As Sting was in the ring, RVD’s initials hit the screen to loud music. The iMPACT Zone went crazy as RVD ambushed Sting from behind with a spinning kick to the jaw to get a fluke win in mere seconds. Afterward, Sting got his heat back by destroying RVD with his bat and taking out a few referees. The segment was effective but went too long–I mean how much punishment can a man take with a bat? Hogan stormed the ring as security held him back, which only enabled Sting to continue the beating on RVD’s ribs and ankle. (A few guards really should have stormed the ring to attempt to cover the fallen star only to be dispatched by Sting as it really didn’t make much sense for them to block Hogan like that while ignoring the prone RVD.) As security held Hogan at bay, Sting jammed a couple bat shots into Hulk’s ribs, doubling him over. By this point, the crowd was pretty hot at Sting, chanting “You suck!” Much like the angle to kick off the show, this was strong enough to close the program, but we still had plenty of show–and one more surprise–left. (It was almost like Bischoff and Hogan couldn’t decide on what would be the best ending for the show out of all their options on the drawing board, so they used all of ’em.)

Kevin Nash, Eric Young had a painful segment with Hall and Waltman, which appeared to set the stage for the Band’s exit as the next PPV. That is, barring another swerve with Nash realigning with his former NWO brothers.

In tears, Brooke Hogan pleaded with her bloodied, battered dad not to go back out there. Hogan, who referenced the family’s personal problems, placated by her vowing this was his last match. (Hey, he lies to everyone else, so why not?) I have a sneaking suspicion this could lead to a Brooke heel turn down the road.

Kurt Angle came to the ring with several members of the U.S. Army and pledged his allegiance to America. As Mr. Anderson interrupted him, calling the servicemen “high-school dropouts” (a great heel line), Angle charged the backstage area and beat the shit out of him in an impromptu lumberjack match with the Army guys getting into the act with punches and tossing Anderson back into the ring. (It appeared as if they accidentally hurt him a few times as they hurled into the apron rather than into the ring.) After Angle stood over his beaten adversary and ripped Mr. Anderson’s Capt. America T-shit, servicemen lifted Angle on their shoulders as he waved Old Glory. This was pretty damn entertaining stuff. I’m digging Angle as a totally serious babyface.

The main event was a bloodbath, as Flair practically cut his head off with a bladejob that would make Tommy Rich wince. (Or as Tazz said, “Bleeding like a stuffed pig. No offense to stuffed pigs.”  Stuffed? Really? Yikes.) Pretty surreal seeing Flair and Hogan in such a gore-fest at their age. Abyss pinned Styles with the blackhole slam, which I guess was the right finish since the two are facing each other in a title bout at the March 21 PPV. Desmond Wolfe, who had earlier laid out the Pope in a backstage attack, stormed the ring to help the heels beat down Hogan and Abyss yet again. Pope was cut off trying to make the save, which then brought out Jeff Hardy, who was cleaning house as the show closed. Whew. The chaotic final scene was very reminiscent of the NWO vs. WCW brawls that closed many Nitros.

Overall, it was an entertaining but horribly paced effort that gave away far too much on the first night of the new head-to-head battle. Clearly, TNA is going to push the envelope with a product that is grittier, raunchier and more violent than WWE, with plenty of juice and hotshot angles. At this rate, the company will burn itself out if it continues to rush storylines like this, but it sure made for a damn interesting night.

More Monday night notes tomorrow.

TNA vs. WWE: 10 things TNA can do to make an impact in Monday Night War II

March 8th, 2010 1 comment

 

Hogan and TNA declare Monday Night War.

As Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff prepare to launch their second shot in Monday Night War II, WWE is marching toward the home stretch of their biggest show of the year with the most loaded WrestleMania card in recent memory. With the exceptions of the always-lame comedy skits on RAW, which have actually gotten worse with professional actors in guest-hosting roles, and the absurdity of the Bret Hart leg injury, WWE television has been largely clicking on all cylinders while TNA enters tonight with a whimper after two straight weeks of overall lousy, illogical TV further hindered by the overexposure of Bischoff and, to a lesser extent, Hogan.  With interest peaking in WWE, TNA couldn’t have picked a worse time to go head to head, so it’s imperative Hogan and Co. present a mix of wrestling, intriguing storylines and solid promos to establish or advance the storylines. I imagine new signee RVD will be thrust into a major storyline tonight, perhaps as the evening’s first “surprise,” despite the fact this his signing is all over Internet. And I hope they’ve figured out something for Jeff Hardy to do other than climb a hideous steel structure.

Specifically, here’s what I feel they must do:

1. Beat WWE in the ring: Start the show with a hot opening match that’s given enough time to build–not a long, drawn-out segment with Hogan and Bischoff threatening the McMahon machine. Ironically, TNA’s biggest asset, their in-ring talent, is probably the least emphasized facet each week on iMPACT. With WWE’s show likely to open with a talk-heavy segment, TNA would be wise to showcase their one element that can outperform Vince & Co, especially since most RAW matches are limited to under three minutes. The Monday night timeslot has been a long time coming and the goal of Jeff Jarrett since Spike TV first gave TNA a shot. But do something really historic: Deliver a hot show in the ring that makes WWE’s product look lame by comparison. TNA will never beat WWE on production values, storylines and presentation, so beat them in the ring. But with Dixie Carter and Co. promising something major in the first five minutes, I’m fairly certain what they have in mind isn’t a great wrestling match. Specifically, the company would do well to kick off with two stars that are recognizable and bankable in the ring, say, Kurt Angle and Mr. Anderson, who are currently involved in one of the more interesting storylines the company has at the moment. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see too many people switching away from an Angle match to see Randy Orton or Vince running their mouths. During his ECW days, Paul Heyman used to say he could never compete with WWE on presentation, so he focused on his strengths. I’d advise TNA to do the same.

2. Act like you’ve been there–even if you haven’t: Limit the carnival-barking about this “historic night.” To WWE, it’s just another night, with the exception of continuing the all-important build toward WrestleMania. (On that note, WWE really needs a strong segment from Hart to put the silly car-accident segment behind them and get the Hitman/McMahon program back on track.) Certainly play it up at the beginning and end of the show, but save the enthusiasm in between for the angles and matches unfolding before our eyes. Every single segment can’t be “historic” and “groundbreaking” tonight. The initial declarations of Monday Night War on January 4 created some interest–now’s the time to follow up on that initial curiosity with a solid product. For you folks who imbibe, take a swig of your favorite adult beverage every time you hear “historic” or “history” tonight–you might be wasted by the halfway mark.

3. Bring down the curtain on the Band: How fitting would it be to wrap this going-nowhere-fast storyline than to kill off Waltman, Nash and Hall as the company kicks off its new era on Monday nights? Shedding as many resemblances to WCW Nitro as possible would benefit most involved–in fact, the life TNA saves may be its own. While you’re taking out the trash, grab the Nasty Boys as well. And for God’s sake, get Sting out of the damn rafters already and put him alongside the Pope or  on the opposite side of an issue with a younger star who could use the rub, like Desmond Wolfe. More likely, the company will try to resurrect the rivalry of Sting vs. Flair, which, quite frankly, wasn’t even that huge of a draw back in 1990.

4. My money’s on the Pope: TNA has done a solid job of building up the Pope as a contender for the World championship. Continue to focus that spotlight on perhaps the company’s most charismatic rising star and let him shine. He’s the closest thing TNA has to a young “Rock”-like personality who could break out with huge mainstream appeal.

5. Get Samoa Joe back in the mix: For years, Joe was entrenched as one of the company’s biggest stars. With the exception of an under-promoted title shot with A.J. Styles in which the emphasis was on Bischoff as special ref, he’s been a background player since the Hogan takeover.

6. A mix of old and new: There has to be a balance of established talent with name value (Hulk Hogan, Flair, Foley, Angle, Hardy, etc.) and younger talent on the rise (D Wolfe, Pope, etc.). WCW relied on established stars like Hogan, Hall, Nash and Savage to build their audience in the late ’90s and that worked for a while. Ultimately, the company was doomed when it failed to elevate the young talent (Jericho, Mysterio, Guerrero, Benoit) who were blowing away audiences with their matches. Don’t bury the longtime TNA stars and alienate its loyal fanbase by relying too heavily on older stars under the new regime. In theory, Flair is a great  superstar rub for World champ Styles, as long as he doesn’t continue to overshadow his protégé. Hardy is still one of the top names in the industry, so they must get him in the thick of things tonight, preferably by laying the groundwork for a Hardy vs. Styles program down the road for the World title. (Something along the lines that Hardy accomplished everything in WWE there was to do–now he’s back to go after the World title he never won the first time around in TNA.) TNA has the right idea with Hogan and Flair paired up with Abyss and Styles, respectively tonight. I don’t have have a problem giving away Hogan vs. Flair on free TV as a gimmick to attract curious casual viewers, but they could have done a much better job building toward tonight’s bout. It’s not like Hogan vs. Flair would mean anything on PPV at this point, but it could definitely bode well for tonight’s rating based off their names alone. After such a big send-off by WWE, the Nature Boy returning to the ring should have been promoted much better–not surprising that the TNA ads popping up online feature Hogan’s in-ring return and not Flair’s.

7. Hot tag:  It’s no secret that McMahon has a disdain for tag-team wrestling, despite the fact that matches for the company’s World tag titles produced some of the company’s most memorable bouts of the ’80s and ’90s. I’d start a major angle over the TNA belts tonight, making them a viable goal worthy of pursuit as opposed to WWE’s Unified tag titles, which seem reserved for two singles stars who are paired up because they have nothing better else to do. A hot, old-school tag bout with enough time to tell a story would be ideal tonight. I like TNA’s established teams like Beer Money (despite the Russo name), Motor City Machine Guns and the British Invasion, although I’m afraid the sun is setting on Team 3-D as players. Showcase what has largely become a forgettable aspect of WWE programming.

8. Limit the Bisch: While I admit he’s a strong performer on the mic, Bischoff is making the classic booker mistake of overexposure and involving himself in too many segments and storylines. Less is more in the case of Bisch. While the jury’s still out on his creative direction, I know for a fact that Bischoff the performer doesn’t sell PPVs. If anything, I’ll take the Bisch as the on-air exec in charge over Dixie Carter any day. But he’s way better in small doses.

9. Knock ’em dead: TNA’s Knockouts have long been considered by TNA’s fans to have the superior women’s division in the ring compared to WWE’s, so prove it to an expanding audience. With the notable exceptions of Maryse and Mickie James, the Divas mostly are a homogenous blur of nameless, faceless women. Kiss Awesome Kong’s big ass and get her back in the fold, if she’s not already, as I think she could be a major star on Monday nights.

10. Cliffhanger: Shortly after the NWO takeover, Bischoff did a pretty good job at closing Nitro episodes with compelling ending and giving the audience a reason to tune in next week. So far in this run, he’s not really come through. The Jan. 4 closing saw Bischoff spin around dramatically in a chair as Foley was looking for Hogan, which would have been OK had he not delivered a promo earlier in the ring to kick off the second hour. Then the fate of the segment was doomed when the Band bum rushed Foley. And in case you have any further ideas of reliving 1997, Sting dropping down from the rafters to save Hogan and Abyss after the main event isn’t going to cut it in 2010.

File under Hulk Hogan and TNA.